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Hyperlocal Tourism

Vibrancy lies in the uniqueness of what we all have to offer, from skills, art and talent to history to food to hospitality. What if we empowered people, families & communities to show off what makes them special to visitors from afar or across town?

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Written by DeletedUser

Chances are we'd be cultivating stronger communities, new friendships and deeper ones among neighbors, pride, enjoyment and care for neighbors and neighborhoods, improvements to private and public spaces, increased cleanliness and security and a reversal in the trend toward ever more anonymity and isolation of city life. We would be cultivating interaction and cultural exchange with people from far away or from just another part of town who had always wondered what it was like "over there" or looking for something new and different to do in their own city. And we would be setting an example for others, cultivating a local identity while encouraging others to do the same.

Key insight #1:  It happens all over the world—when people put themselves, their talents, their traditions, their homes, their towns or their cultures on display, they take pride in what they show and how their guests receive them. When visitors are invited into a community, as in tourism, the community cleans up private and public spaces, makes improvements and comes together to put their best face forward, guarding against negative influences and working together. As people work together, they strengthen their own bonds and increase their collective ability to accomplish more for the community. Rich ideas spring up and residents take initiative to act on them.  And the economic benefits of visitors to the community circulate and are reinvested in more improvements to the community.

Key insight #2:  Think of your most special travel memories.  Besides the incredible landscapes, physical feats or adrenaline rushes, your most special travel memories (or any memories for that matter) are most likely your favorites because of a connection—probably deeper than you expected—with another person, group of people or culture.  Maybe you were invited into someone's shop or home to wait out a storm, slept in another person's home or village, were given the ability to see and feel how another culture lives, or received unexpected generosity when you were stranded or your travel plans went awry.  People tend to connect deeply with other people when given permission, and to value those experiences much more than more superficial ones.

Imagine encouraging a whole city of individuals, families and neighborhoods to showcase their skills and talents, histories, homes, food, drink or hospitality, open to the public from far away or just another part of the city to enjoy.

See the "Resources" section below for logistics, but the objective would be to create a city-wide initiative to encourage and help people and neighborhoods organize and produce one-off and ongoing events, tours, shows & exhibitions, classes, products or services that show the incredible richness, color, flavor and value that exists right inside our very own neighborhoods. 

Examples could include:

  • Neighborhood block parties, street fairs or holiday festivals with locally cooked food, local bands and entertainment, art, crafts and talents on display.  Neighborhoods would organize but invitations would be put out to the whole city and through tourism board channels.
  • Open your home to weekly meals, drinks or home-stays like a bed & breakfast (to the limits of what requires licenses, or work with the city to allow licenses)
  • Art and crafts collected and sold or displayed in a local storefront or gallery
  • Unique or historical items collected from families and displayed in a local storefront as a museum of hyperlocal history or the diverse histories of all the families who live there
  • Walking tours - history and stories are collected from every resident and about the neighborhood's man-made and natural features and a neighborhood tour guide leads weekly or monthly walking tours
  • Walking tours of open houses - residents welcome visitors into their homes to interact and give a window into daily life, stories and histories - great for those who want to know how people live in a different community than their own
  • Cross-town or cross-city exchange - stay with another family in a different neighborhood for a weekend or longer, then switch
  • Classes - teach your knowledge or talents to others
  • Have residents each decorate a common object—an empty picture frame, a shoebox or a cheap plaster statue & put them all on display in a local storefront as a display of local artistic talent. Could be sold or auctioned or could be displayed as a collection with others from neighborhoods all over the city.
  • Photographic scavenger hunt as a self-guided tour for visitors

Please see more great ideas and insights in the comments below - thanks Didi, Ashley, Johan and Clare!

Healthy competition among neighborhoods would be good for everyone.

What resources (money, time, people, technology, etc) will your concept need to be successful?

Small scale: • Willing and enthusiastic individuals, families, households and neighborhoods who want to participate, showcase the uniqueness of what's local and welcome others to enjoy it too • Organizers - at least a small staff of planners and community organizers to help facilitate • a website or simply a wiki to let people start adding their locations and tours to a larger list and spreading the word via their own social media channels. Ideally (on a larger scale): • Buy-in and participation from the city and state tourism boards • Gov't participation, at least for licenses and help knowing what are the opportunities and limits of what is legal, and at most with funding and resources to encourage more home-grown local tourism • Publicity - A campaign to announce the initiative, recruit organizers and get neighborhoods buzzing - publicity for specific events, tours and offerings, driven primarily by neighborhoods and individuals with help from organizers and hopefully by tourism boards and city governments, travel agencies, hotels and airports - flyers, brochures, public announcements on radio, tv, in newspapers, at local venues, through whatever means people can get their hands on - an ongoing campaign encouraging citizens to support hyperlocal tourism events, initiatives and businesses, and to create their own one-time or ongoing events • A website for information, posting the grand concept, what's currently being offered, how to get involved, and eventually facilitating browsing and booking tours for city residents and visitors • Grants for proposals, ideally, funded by gov't and private industry interested in supporting the effort; individuals will be asked to contribute funding and participation in their own neighborhoods' activities

What steps could you take to implement this idea today?

1. Plan the concept, from its start to its fullest potential 2. Draft a proposal for government and brochures for neighborhoods, distribute 3. Hold meetings with local people in their own neighborhoods, presenting the idea, asking for feedback and gauging their buy-in; gather insights and suggestions to make revisions and create a plan that is now informed and has every ability to be adopted 3. Start recruiting organizers for the initiative and within neighborhoods 4. Work with the neighborhoods to produce their first events and get their ongoing initiatives established and rolling 5. Create and launch the central website w/ basic info about the initiative, what's happening already, what's possible, how to get involved and the ability to browse tours and events (eventually able to book tours & tickets). Listings could be done in wiki form at their most basic, or be collected and curated by staff. A substantial amount of control to add items and allow the public to give feedback should be considered. 6. Create accounts and start using appropriate social media with emphasis on enabling citizens to organize & publicize to the maximum using their own social media and offline channels

How can your idea be scaled so that it's implemented in cities around the world?

This concept can be applied anywhere in the world, tailoring the methods, organization, publicity and technologies to whatever's most appropriate locally. * photo attribution:

My Virtual Team

Didi Quimpo, Ashley Jablow, Johan Löfström, Clare Brown


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Thanks for an interesting post Dave!
Iceland has done a tremendous job on this (winner of the Golden Lion in Brand Awareness) :

Lots of hyperlocalism going on in Helsinki too!ööperiFest/172681322786221

Looking forward to see more of this in the city official marketing plans in the future. This is what makes Helsinki more Helsinki.


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